Look Out Fire...You're on Camera: axonX

University of Maryland to Validate Most Advanced Video Fire Detection System


A hidden electrical wire shorts in an art gallery. Smoke smolders and a fire erupts under the brushstrokes of Monet and Manet. Before the smoke can reach the vaulted ceiling to signal the smoke detectors, countless sensitive, irreplaceable works are destroyed.

This is the fate of many buildings where smoke detectors fail to sense a fire and notify the fire department before significant damage occurs. axonX LLC, a Sparks, Md.-based company, plans to put an end to ravaging fires by teaming with the University of Maryland to validate its intelligent video-camera system, which can spot a small fire in less than five seconds.

axonX's SigniFire(TM) system can detect fire, smoke and intrusion in structures such as warehouses, energy plants, art galleries and homes. The camera assesses minute pixel changes within its three dimensional field of view--occasionally using reflections to get around large objects blocking the line of sight--to detect fire faster and more accurately than any currently available commercial product.

"It's the only video detection system that recognizes the big three dangers: smoke, fire and intrusion," said George Privalov, chief technology officer and founder. "It eliminates most nuisance alarms because it actually sees the fireball and corona of a blaze. The camera knows it's a fire rather than a light or hot surface."

The company came to the University of Maryland to work with Jim Milke, associate chair and professor of the department of fire protection engineering, through a Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) project. This collaboration will help axonX get classified as a life-saving device by Underwriters Laboratories, as well as by Factory Mutual, an insurance company that tests fire protection equipment.

Milke will prove the camera system's versatility and precise algorithms through tests in simulated dorm rooms, as well as a possible test in Cole Field House, which seats 12,125.

"This is a leading edge technology and a significant advancement in fire detection," said Milke. "They developed the device, and we will help them prove its capabilities."

The camera's feeds can be sent to any remote location that has installed axonX's SpyderGuard(TM) software, most likely a security company such as ADT, who--when a fire occurs--will get a notification of the fire as well as a structural plan of the building.

The National Fire Protection Association recently approved video surveillance systems as an effective way to detect fire, marking a significant change to its detector code.

Although axonX has yet to be approved by UL and FM, various customers are already installing SigniFire(TM)'s general eight-camera system, which costs around $20,000--half as much as some of their competitors. The system is scalable to fit any size and/or shape of building.

The U.S. Navy tested SigniFire(TM) with other video image and spot-type detection systems, and found that axonX's technology was far more accurate.

According to the concluding report from the Naval Research Laboratory's Advanced Damage Countermeasures Volume Sensor Project, SigniFire(TM) responded faster and to more fires than all of the other video or spot-type detection systems.

"We hope the U.S. Navy installs SigniFire(TM) on its new Destroyers, and Great Britain's Royal Navy is testing our product right now," said Lynch.

axonX yesterday won a Technology Innovation Award in the Security (Facilities) category from The Wall Street Journal. The company was selected from over 600 applicants.

axonX is also collaborating with: Cameco, a uranium processing plant; a Family Fun Center in Aberdeen, Md.; the Maryland Golf and Country Club; and Chicago's Children's Hospital.

The company has received funding from Johnson Controls, TEDCO, and angel investors.

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